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Nolin talks about enrollment

By Michael Butler

There has been a drop in the number of students at Tallassee in recent years. Tallassee City Schools Superintendent Dr. Brock Nolin spoke about the impact that decline has on the system.

"Every child between K-12 is counted for state funding," Nolin said. "That translates to how many teaching units. Roughly, for every 20 students you earn a teaching unit."

The state funds the school for those students based on attendance. The financial equation measures that attendance over a 20-day period after Labor Day each school year.

"If that child shows up (all) 20 days after Labor Day, you get the full funding," Nolin added, emphasizing why good attendance is so important for the system. "If they show up 15 out of 20, you get 15/20 of that funding. That's how they do it."

Nolin noted that the most recent counts for the current school year are in the 1,440-1,445 range.

"It's funded a year in the rear. That's how much money you earn the year after that. They don't count your Pre-K kids. Counting Pre-K, we're a little over 1,500 district-wide. Two years ago it was 1,614 and 1,675. There's been a trend of losing 35 to 40 students.

"I've been tracking that the last few years. There's really not a whole lot of rhyme or reason regardless of what people say. 'They're going to Reeltown or Eclectic.' No. Some are going to Hawaii. Some go back to Mexico. I've got a spreadsheet that shows what school they're moving to. Last year, we had 14 students withdraw and do virtual school or home school."

With the loss of state funding, the school has been picking up the tab for additional costs for those teaching units.

"The last couple of years we've just absorbed them," said Nolin. "We're at 15 units over that are funded locally. We're fortunate to be a city system with a good tax base to carry some extra units. We can't just keep aborbing those year after year. At some point there's a funding cliff."

Assistance has been available through the Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) which many schools have tapped into for covering teaching salaries.

"A lot of districts hired temporary personnel. We only hired two positions with ESSER funds. When that runs out in September of 2024, a lot of systems are going to be shuffling personnel. Some of these coaches they hired will be put back in classrooms. Your new teachers will get released. We exercised discretion with our $4 million. We didn't put that into personnel. We used a lot of that money to replace our HVAC systems, our flooring and deferred maintenance that was allowable under that fund source."